Toy Review: Combiner Wars Legends class Shockwave

Remember back in January when we ran our Bruticus Week feature? Well, here’s Bruticus Week Redux, because, yes, it’s taken this long for us to acquire the final piece of that particular Combaticon puzzle: Bruticus’s gun, who comes in the form of a Legends class Shockwave. This dinky Decepticon has proven frustratingly tricky to source and, much as we wanted him, we weren’t prepared to pay the ridiculous scalper prices for which we’d seen him going. So we had a bit of wait to find him for a reasonable rate. Still, here we go at last: Bruticus Week Day 8: the Day Everyone Got Shot.

Looking down the barrel of a gun / Son of a gun, son of a bitch / Getting paid, getting rich

Pew! Pew!

Was he worth the wait? The only logical choice is to read on and see…

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Bruticus Week: Combiner Wars Bruticus Himself

Bruticus Week!

Bruticus Week: 7th and final day

And on the seventh day, we rested. Wait a minute no we didn’t, let’s try that again… now, are you guys ready?

Combaticons assemble!

Combaticons assemble!

And Lo on the seventh day, WE CREATED BRUTICUS!

Yes, thanks for sticking with us all week, now it’s finally time to take a look at the big guy himself….

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Bruticus Week: Toy Review Combiner Wars Swindle

Bruticus Week!

Bruticus Week: day 2

Swindle, The Arms Dealer

Swindle is one of those characters who doesn’t change all that much throughout his many appearances in the Transformers mythos: G1 Swindle, TFA Swindle and Aligned Continuity (that’s TF: Prime and the War For/Fall Of Cybertron video games) Swindle are all much of a muchness, which is a tribute to the instantly recognisable aesthetic and distinctive characterisation that this Decepticon has enjoyed all along. Swindle is an enthusiastic profiteer: an arms dealer who sees the Autobot/Decepticon war as an opportunity to sell a whole lot of guns, ammo and the other grim necessities of war. It’s a depiction that reaches its zenith in Transformers Animated, where Swindle is shown to have his own personal transwarp storage dimension, the doorway to which is inside his chest, so that he always has access to his vast stockpile of dubiously acquired guns and gadgets in eager readiness for a quick, no questions asked, sale.

"Trust me..."

“Trust me…”

Swindle is not only my favourite Combaticon but (after Starscream) one of my favourite Decepticons full stop, so ever since I heard Bruticus was set to be a part of Combiner Wars I’ve been looking forward to getting my hands on this figure. Was he worth the wait? Let’s find out…

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Toy Review: Combiner Wars Blackjack



Tiny figure, but not a tiny review: The newest addition to our collection of toy robots is Combiner Wars Blackjack. Not a recent figure, but it appears that the UK has missed out on this little chap, and only had his retool as Rodimus. Thanks to internet shopping, I was able to pick him up despite never having seen him at retail.

Now, I love the name Blackjack for a Decepticon thug: I suspect he’s not named after the card-game: the Oxford English Dictionary defines a blackjack as a flexible lead-filled truncheon, and gives the following delightful example sentences:

Firehoses were turned on and soon three thousand picketers, thugs, and police rumbled in the streets with clubs, blackjacks, wrenches, chains, and tear gas.
Bats, clubs, sticks, blackjacks, Brazilian fighting rods, rocks, and Japanese club sticks are just a few of the more favored tools used in beating people to a pulp.

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Toy Review: Combiner Wars Mirage

So, when the Combiner Wars toyline reached the UK I wasn’t massively impressed. All the figures looked a bit same-y to me, perhaps because the Aerialbots were (mostly) the first wave to arrive, and they’re all jet planes. I liked the Optimus Prime, but I wasn’t impressed with much of the others. I decided to just buy any figures who stood out and looked interesting, rather than try to collect a whole team. (I figured early on that this policy would produce an anomalous result towards the end of this year: “known Decepticon sympathiser” AddAltModeR loves all the Combaticons, so the whole team have been pre-ordered.)

Autobot-wise, I’ve been largely disappointed. Among the Protectobots, only First Aid tickled my fancy, and among the current wave, which is made up of previously non-combining characters joining to form a new combiner called Ultra Prime (I appreciate the RID2001/Car Robots reference!), I’ve only really liked Mirage. Now, Mirage is a re-tool of the Decepticon Drag Strip, with a new head that more closely resembles the G1 cartoon version of Mirage, and a white colour scheme. I didn’t like Drag Strip much, on the grounds that he’s super-garish: lemon yellow and magenta is not a tasteful combination. Mirage is, suitably for a robot aristocrat, a much-more classily-attired bot.

Mirage in-pack. He comes with a sword, a giant hand/foot, and a comic.

Mirage in-pack. He comes blister-packed on a card with a sword, a giant hand/foot, and a comic.

So, my thoughts on this figure… Continue reading

Toy Review: Takara Tomy Legends Slipstream

“Hotly anticipated” doesn’t even begin to cover it. Before this review goes any further I really ought to raise my hand and confess to every kind of bias and vested interest there is going. Since I started planning my Slipstream cosplay project back in January 2015 I dread to think how many hours I’ve spent thinking about this particular Transformers character. I’ve watched those few episodes of Transformers Animated in which she appears, scrutinised screenshots, fanart, over-thought her colour-scheme, her composition and behaviour, and I’ve cosplayed as her 5 times now for various events and had the time of my life doing so. A bit part player in the TF canon she may be, but this Decepticon femme has become a firm favourite and a weirdly huge part of my life. I don’t know whether these factors will predispose me to write a ridiculously positive review (because OMG guys it’s Slipstream, right here in plastic) or whether I’m more likely to be overtly critical (because she is my main woman and I need this figure to do her justice). I guess we’ll find out, but either way be aware I’m hardly coming at this from a neutral perspective…

Here she is: Takara's Deluxe Legends Slipstream

Here she is: Takara’s Deluxe Legends Slipstream

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Toy Review: Combiner Wars Leader Class Starscream

Hello my name is AddAltModeR  and I am a Starscreamaholic. The backstabbing Seeker is probably my single favourite Transformers character. I love the design of the Seekers in general and, having done a postgraduate degree in Renaissance Literature, I really have been primed to appreciate the theatrical — nay, positively Shakespearean — extent of his villainy. Here’s a character who can truly be relied upon to betray you; putting the “deception” into Decepticon time after time after time. Starscream toys are my weakness, and I have more versions of him in the plastic than any other character. In that respect, I guess I’m a bit like Megatron: I know full well that Screamer is bad for me but I just can’t resist keeping him around!

Coronation, Starscream? This is bad comedy.

Coronation, Starscream? This is bad comedy.

Hasbro’s new Leader Class Starscream has just been released as part of the Combiner Wars line although – like other Leader class figures we’ve picked up, such as Megatron and Ultra Magnus — he’s a standalone toy who doesn’t participate in the combining gimmick. Originally built for the Generations line as Jetfire (complete with some of the nastiest red metallised plastic weapons I’ve seen), the mold was remodelled for Combiner Wars and first released as Thundercracker. I was pretty sold on Thundercracker after reading FigureFan Zero’s great review of him; and seeing the blue Seeker in the plastic at Auto Assembly only confirmed those positive first impressions. It’s quite refreshing that Hasbro released Thundercracker first this time, giving the most intelligent Seeker a bit of love and some time in the spotlight.  But a red and grey recolour was inevitable and fangirl that I am, I decided to resist the temptation of Thundercracker and wait for another Starscream to add to my collection.  Was he worth the wait? Read on and see…

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Toy Review: Takara-Tomy AM-12 Breakdown (with Zamu)

Whether you collect plates, plants, plushies or, uh, plastic robots, if you’re a collector, the chances are you have a wishlist. Maybe it’s a mental list, something scrawled on the back of an envelope, or perhaps – like us here at AddAltMode – you have a spreadsheet on the go. But whatever the format, I’m willing to bet that most such lists contain a few  “dream on” items: the things you’d dearly love to own but doubt you ever will due to rarity, cost, age or a combination of all these factors.  Top of my Transformer wishlist for some time has been the Takara-Tomy Arms Micron Breakdown figure. But to be honest I never thought I’d really get him. The only times I’d ever seen him for sale at all here in the UK he’d been going for ridiculous prices as a double import (from Japan via the USA) and though I probably spend more than I should on Transformers overall, I couldn’t begin to justify (or afford) splurging so much on a single figure.

My Arms-Micron Knock Out had pretty much resigned himself to being partnerless too:

Breakdown really does cost that much :(

But sometimes love stories do have a happy ending:

Arms Micron Knock Out and Arms Micron Breakdown, united at last!

Arms Micron Knock Out and Arms Micron Breakdown, united at last!

Yes! Breakdown recently popped up on Ebay here in the UK, pre-owned but in superb condition and for a price that was not insane. My heart was thundering in my chest to an embarrassing extent as the final seconds of the auction ticked to a close, but I’m happy to say I got him and my wallet wasn’t crying afterwards.

Although he’s not a new toy I’m going to do a full review, because he’s not a figure that gets seen very often. It’s such a shame he’s not more readily available because Breakdown really is superb, both in terms of his design and his show accuracy.

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Toy Review: Combiner Wars Megatron

All Hail Megatron! Maybe it’s a shocking confession, but we didn’t actually have a Megatron in our collection before (other than the teeny one that “hatched” out of a Kinder Egg). Since we’ve only been buying Transformers (again) for the last couple of years, there hadn’t been a Megatron released during this time who really appealed. We wanted a large Megsy, a figure with some gravitas, the sort who nobody – except probably Wheeljack – would dare to call “Megsy.” But most of the more recent toys of this iconic Decepticon have been smaller sized ones, and we weren’t about to the pay the silly prices for which some of the older, larger figures now sell. So I was pretty excited when I heard a new Leader class Megatron was on the way as part of the Generations Combiner Wars line. We pre-ordered this big guy way back in January, but I only just got my hands on him last week. His ship date just kept getting put back and put back. But finally here he is!

A Leader Class Decepticon Leader

A Leader Class Decepticon Leader

Was he worth the wait? Let’s have a closer look shall we?

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Toy Review: Combiner Wars Ultra Magnus

Our review of Combiner Wars Optimus Prime is (at time of writing) one of the most-viewed posts on this blog: I guess everyone loves the big red guy. Today, though, it’s the big blue guy’s day. I’d be lying if I said that Ultra Magnus hasn’t been one of my favourite characters in the Transformers milieu for a long time, in his various incarnations, so I was quite excited when I heard that a new toy of the character was being released in Leader size-class – slightly bigger than anything else in my collection.

He's pwning Galvatron in two of these panels. Take that, Galvatron.

Ultra Magnus, as seen in (Clockwise from top left) IDW’s More Than Meets The Eye comic; Toei’s Transformers: The Headmasters cartoon; Mystery of Convoy for the Nes; and Marvel’s Transformers UK comic.

So, if you want to find out my opinions of the new Ultra Magnus toy, you’ll have to hop behind the cut. There may be spoilers ahead for the current Transformers comic series More Than Meets The Eye.

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